Smit Mehta is crazy about cricket

Smit Mehta says he chose ACU because of its reputation for high quality health courses – but really, his life goal is to play professional cricket.

Smit Mehta loves cricket. Like, he really loves cricket.

“I’ve been in Australia for the last three years, but I’ve never been out of Brisbane, except to play cricket on the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast,” he says.

“If I have spare time, I might go to the gym – I’ll do fitness or extra training stuff.

“Apart from cricket, I don’t do anything.”

From Gujarat in India, Smit is in his final semester of the ACU Master of Health Administration last year. He says he chose ACU because of its reputation for high quality health courses – but really, his life goal is to play professional cricket.

Smit’s cricket career started back when he was a kid; he was chosen for state campus in India for under-16s and under-19s. When he arrived in Brisbane, he immediately signed up with the Toombul District Cricket Club, which provides a pathway to Queensland Cricket’s state-level competition.

“I’ve played some games in first grade, and I’m playing second grade right now for the club,” he says.

In 2019, Smit’s cricket career took an unexpected turn: he was invited to spend four months playing cricket in the UK. But it seemed like an impossible dream – in Australia, international student visa requirements only allow students to take extended breaks from their studies for limited reasons. Smit turned to ACU for help.

“I was like, I think this isn’t going to happen, because the only reason I can take a semester break is if someone is really ill in my family or something serious happens to me,” he says.

He went to see the team at ACU’s International Office, meeting with international student adviser Michelle Miles to explain his dilemma.

“The issue was that in order to take up this opportunity without complications he would need to get approval for an Interruption to Study on compassionate or compelling grounds,” she says.

Michelle knew that ACU had an Elite Athlete Program, so she contacted the program manager to talk through Smit’s case. Not only was he invited to join the program, which gave him permission to take leave from his studies to pursue competitive sport, he also received $750 in funding towards his flights to the UK.

Michelle’s response was typical of ACU International, where staff go above and beyond to help their students, no matter the problems they face.

“I was not expecting any financial support, but Michelle encouraged me,” Smit says.

“She did a lot to help me.”

As a result, he spent a semester in Manchester playing cricket for the Dinting Cricket Club – an important step in what he hopes will lead to bigger and better opportunities.

In fact, the experience went so well that he’s been invited back to play for Dinting again in the future. If all goes well, he says, he’ll head back over with the goal of nabbing a salaried spot at a slightly larger club.

But back to that health degree he’s about to finish:

“In three or four years I’ll know if cricket is a viable career option or not. If not, I might take a job in a hospital and use this master’s degree!” he says.

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